Select Armor, Inc.
Select Armor is a private military corporation based in Virginia. It describes itself as "...a woman-owned enterprise HQ in The Plains, VA with offices in Santa Fe Springs, CA, Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates, Salzburg, Austria, and Baghdad, Iraq whose core team competency is Force Protection technologies, Security and Emergency Preparedness, Tactical and CBRN training."
The company's CEO Michele Ballarin is also known as Michele Golden-Ballarin, under which name she runs the "boutique investment bank" Cambridge Wealth Management Ltd. In 2004, Ballarin and the bank's operations in Austria were the subject of an investigation by the Austrian public prosecutor.
Alleged involvement in planned covert operations in Somalia
Africa Confidential reported in September 2006 that the company had
- "...been planning military operations in support of President Abdullahi Yusuf's Transitional Federal Government in Somalia and raising questions about an attack on Mogadishu, according to documents obtained by Africa Confidential. The documents refer to Uganda's willingness to secure arms supplies using its own end-user certificates (in contravention of the UN arms embargo) and makes disparaging remarks about 'the fucks' in the United Nations who have been 'snooping around' Select Armor's personnel."
The Observer also saw the leaked emails, and reported the contents of one sent on June 16, 2006 by chief executive Michele Ballarin:
- "Ballarin's email was sent to a number of individuals including Chris Farina of the Florida-based military company ATS Worldwide. Ballarin said: 'Boys: Successful meeting with President Abdullay Yussef [sic] and his chief staff personnel in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday ... where he invited us to his private hotel suite flacked by security detail ... He has appointed is chief of presidential protocol as our go to during this phase.'
- "She refers to one 'closed-door meeting' with a senior UN figure and mentions there are 'a number of Brit security firms' also looking to get involved. Ballarin claimed she has been given 'carte blanche' to use three bases in Somalia 'and the air access to reach them'. She then suggests that the CIA have been kept informed of the plans. Ballarin states: 'My contact whom we discussed from the agency side requested an in-person meeting with me. I arrived in New York at 2340 last night and was driven to Virginia - arriving at 0200 today.'"
Meeting with the UN and roughing it in Kampala
Africa Confidential gave some more details about the planning of the alleged operation:
- "Select Armor claim to have briefed" Ugandan Minister of Security Amama Mbabazi and Intelligence Director Brigadier Noble Mayombo. 
- Ballarin also claimed "...to have secured meetings with the UN’s Colonel Harry Haen and Sidi Zahab". 
- Ballarin wrote that President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda "...put us up in the facility next to his compound".  
- "Select's main contact in the Somali government appears to be Minister of Interior (a former US marine and son of the late General Mohamed Farah Aydeed) Hussein Mohamed Aydeed, who is code-named 'Alpha'. President Museveni provides accommodation for the Aydeed family in Kampala."   
- Select's General Douglas Eaton "...was cited as handling wire transfers of money to fund the operation."  
Ballarin was allegedly less than grateful for the hospitality shown to her by President Museveni. She declared that "Kampala is a real shithole",  and complained that in the accommodation provided by Museveni "...we had no hot water during our five days."  She also branded Somalia's Prime Minister Mohamed Ali Gedi as the 'Prime Sinister'.
The UN claims they were just talking about training police officers
Inquiries made by Inner City Press (which has an office in the UN Secretariat building ) shed further light on the meeting with the UN in Kampala. According to an email it received from a contact at the UN:
- "Two representatives of Select Armor visited the offices of the UNDP Rule of Law and Security (ROLS) Program earlier this year. Their visit was related to the reform of the Somali security sector. The facts of that meeting are:
- "Ms. Michele Ballarin, Chief Executive of Select Armor, accompanied by General Douglas Eaton requested the meeting at UNDP. They said they had been designated by the Office of the President of Somalia to plan for the training of police Officers. They met with Mr. Sidi Zahabi, Program Manager with the ROLS program and Colonel Henricus (Harry) Haen, Senior Military Adviser with the UN Political Office for Somalia and interim chairman of the Security Sector Technical Working Group which coordinates Somali security sector reform initiatives. The focus of the conversation at UNDP was a briefing on UNDP's police training program for Somalia, particularly at the two academies in the north as well as the planned expansion of training sites in south central in support of the National Security and Stabilization Plan (NSSP) and national police training needs."
Somalia's TFG denies the allegations
The transitional federal government of Somalia responded with a press release, angrily denying any meeting with Ballarin and denouncing The Observer for "false reporting":
- "The Office of the President of the Transitional Federal Government of the Republic of Somalia strongly deny the alleged meeting between the so-called Select Armor a US military firm based in Virginia executives and His Excellency President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed in Nairobi, Kenya. The Observer should have done more investigative report on real issues and not succumb to the fabrication of those against the return of the rule of law, justice and the pacification of the nation."
- Michele Ballarin, President and CEO.
- Douglas Eaton, Chairman of Board of Directors.
- Dr Anthony Wells, Director.
- Roy L. Wright, Founder and Chief Operating Officer.
The company's domain name, selectarmor.com, is registered to Roy Wright's marketing company RWA International, LLC, and Wright is listed as the contact. Wright also appears to be a registered user on selectarmor.com's 'hidden' message board.
Competing for a slice of a $500m anti-terrorist contract
In April 2007, the Associated Press reported that Select Armor was part of a team led by Lockheed Martin Corp. which had been selected by the U.S. Navy "...to compete for anti-terrorism contracts worth up to $500 million over five years. The Navy's Anti-Terrorism Force Protection program offers contracts with one base year and four option years. The companies will compete to design, install and maintain anti-terrorism equipment at naval bases around the world."
The company's website also has a message board, which has been inadequately hidden (and is therefore indexed by search engines). See
As of September 2006, most of the postings on it are smutty jokes.
- Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT)
- Cambridge Wealth Management Ltd.
- Michele Ballarin
- ↑ "Lockheed to Compete for Navy ATFP pacts", Associated Press (via The Boston Globe), April 6, 2007.
- ^ List of the officers and directors of Select Armor, Inc. on the Virginia Clerk's Information System (CIS). Accessed September 14, 2006.
- ^ Biography of Roy L. Wright, Chesapeake FIRST Regional Robotics Competition website. Undated, accessed September 10, 2006.
- ^ 2006 Judges, Chesapeake FIRST Regional Robotics Competition website.
- ^ WHOIS data for selectarmor.com. Accessed September 10, 2006.
- ^ "About us" page, Select Armor website. Undated, accessed September 10, 2006.
- ^ "Douglas Eaton" page, Select Armor website. Undated, accessed September 10, 2006.
- ^ List of members for selectarmor.com's inadequately hidden message board. Accessed September 10, 2006.
- ^ "Mission Mogadishu", Africa Confidential, Vol 47 Number 18, 8th September 2006. Payment req'd.
- ^ Antony Barnett and Patrick Smith, "US accused of covert operations in Somalia", The Observer, September 10, 2006.
- ^ "Somalia: 'The Observer has been misled and should Apologise for the false reporting'" (sic), press release by the TFG of Somalia, Garowe Online, September 11, 2006.
- ^ "Chaos in UN's Somalia Policy, Working With Islamists Under Sanctions While Meeting with Private Military Contractors", Inner City Press, October 2, 2006.